Sewa and Toro were not just sisters with the five years difference between them; they were about the same height, spoke alike and laughed alike. As kids, they were quite inseparable. They loved dressing alike and going places together. Their parents had wondered how they didn’t come as twins.
“Adetoro, I just noticed a swelling in my right breast but I don’t know what it is.”
Whenever Sewa called Toro’s full name, she knew whatever she was going to say next meant a lot to her.
“Is it painful?” Toro asked.
“Why don’t you go to the hospital and find out what it might be? Don’t waste time thinking about it, Sewa, just go the hospital and let the doctors work their magic so you can be at peace.”
The last Sewa visited Coventry Memorial Hospital was five years ago when she had malaria. She hardly fell ill. The hospital still had it welcoming atmosphere. The last time, the reception and ambience was so soothing that she was contemplating returning home or staying few more days. She walked to the receptionist desk where she was checked in. Few minutes later, she was seated in front of her family doctor, Dr. Lawal, in his air-conditioned room. He had a chaperone with him, Nurse Fola, and she had recognized her immediately she opened the door. They all exchanged pleasantries.
“Madam Sewa, it’s been ages, what brought you here?”
“Doctor Lawal, I’m fine o.” Dr Lawal laughed at her reply. “If you are indeed fine, you wouldn’t be here.”
“That’s true. I just suddenly noticed this bulge in my breast.”
He asked her a few questions, mostly about when it started, any symptoms she’s had before he examined her. He wore his gloves and examined the two breasts, one at a time. Adesewa felt awkward at first but she remembered that it was something she knew was going to happen.
“Sewa, you have a mass in your breast and we need to confirm if it is benign or malignant.” He said as he went back to his seat. “You’ll have to do some tests for me. Have you ever done a breast awareness exam or breast self-exam to understand your breast structure so you can identify if there is a problem?”
“Breast self-exam? Doctor is it something people do regularly? How do I do it? what is it for or what is it about?” The questions rushed out of her mouth all at once.
“Go in front of your mirror. Look at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips. Ensure breasts are their usual size, shape, colour. Raise your arms and look for the same changes, when you’re doing that, check if fluid is coming out of one or both nipples. Come and lie on the bed”
Adesewa walked to the examination bed.
“Feel your breast while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast in a circular motion, keep your fingers flat and together. Start from top to bottom and side to side; your armpit to your clevage. You could also do while sitting or having your bath.”
Adesewa followed his instructions as she carefully examined her breasts. It was all new to her because she had never had any reason to do it before.
“That is how to do a breast self-exam.” He concluded. “The tests will help us know if it is benign or malignant.”
“What does that mean?”
“If it is a cancer or not.”
“Cancer?” She said looking perplexed.
To be continued…